Category Archives: Games

New Tabletop! Say Anything with Matt Mira, Jonah Ray, and Josh Cagan!

Casual party games are a great infection vector for introducing tabletop gaming to our non-gaming friends. For experienced players, they're also fantastic palate cleansers between games of Puerto Rico and Power Grid.

This week's new Tabletop is a really fun, quick, easy, and profoundly silly party game called Say Anything.


If you like Say Anything, you'll probably like other casual tabletop games, like Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, and the three quick casual games we've already played (Tsuro, Zombie Dice, and Get Bit!).

These games are easy to learn, play very quickly, and can be found just about anywhere, from your Friendly Local Game Shop to big chain bookstores.

Introducing As Seen on Tabletop.

Tabletop on Geek and SundryEvery day, I get emails, messages on Twitter, and Ravens from people who have played a game because we played it on Tabletop. The stories and pictures are super awesome, and I want to share them with the world.

So I set up a Tumblr called As Seen On Tabletop for viewers to share your stories and pictures from your game nights, game days, and game shops.

You can either use the SUBMIT function there, or you can send email to tabletop (at symbol) wil wheaton (dot goes here) net.



The newest #Tabletop is a real #Fiasco!

The newest episode of Tabletop is Fiasco, my absolute favorite storytelling RPG of all time.

Fiasco is "a game about ordinary people with powerful ambition and poor impulse control. There will be big dreams and flawed execution. It won’t go well for them, to put it mildly, and in the end it will probably all go south in a glorious heap of jealousy, murder, and recrimination. It’s designed to be played in a single session, usually around two and a half hours, with no prep."

When you have a Fiasco, you use a playset to establish the things the players are going to ruin their lives trying to get, who they are to each other, and where everything is going to get all fucked up. Some of my favourite playsets are Los Angeles 1936, Dallas 1963, and Flyover.

Saturday Night 78. A Fiasco Playset written by Wil Wheaton and Will Hindmarch, and Jason Morningstar.

The playset we used for Tabletop was written by me and Will Hindmarch, and Fiasco's creator Jason Morningstar. It's called Saturday Night 78. It is described thusly:

New York City, 1978. Last year, the city endured the chaos of the blackout of ‘77 and the terror of the Son of Sam killings. This year, Studio 54 makes millions by giving beautiful plebs and dazzling celebrities a place to party at $20 a head. Condensed sweat rains from Studio 54’s mirrored-laminate ceiling—sweat evaporated from the brows of celebrities, maybe—and falls back on the dancers below.

This is a time of rock and disco, of reckless hedonism and casual sex, a time before consequences. Debauchees high on blow, poppers, or Quaaludes dance and laugh and lust and cry in swank clubs and dirty dives all over the city. Whoever your characters are in the daylight, come dark they transform into sordid stars or disco royalty, beautiful disasters or pitiable victors, ricocheting off each other into the glittering wreckage of imploded parties. Every Saturday night the city’s alight with spectacular fiascos.

What's that you say? It sounds like an awesome setting that you'd like to use yourself? We've got you covered! You can download Saturday Night 78 for free right here, and use it in your very own Fiasco. And if you do, you know that I want to hear all about it in the comments.

Make your own Zombie Dice Brain Counters

One of the most frequently asked questions about Tabletop is: "How do I get those awesome brains you used as counters in Zombie Dice?"

They were made by our AMAZING art director and prop master, Nick, (who made the show look incredible, and still came in under his budget) out of some kind of foam that apparently kills you if you eat it, so I can't exactly tell people to go and do the same thing we did.

…but look at what Mel From Hell showed me on Twitter just now!

image from
This was made with Sculpey, and is awesome. So now you know how to make your own cool Zombie Dice brain counters. 

Get Excited and Make Something!

Amber Benson, Meghan Camarena, and Michelle Boyd join me for GLOOM on #Tabletop

This week's new episode of Tabletop is online for your happy funtime enjoyment:

If the embed isn't working, or you want to see this in glorious SUPER MEGA HD, I've got you covered, because I love you.

A few notes:

* We have no control over the ads that run during Tabletop, so it's likely that you saw some bullshit Crossroads GPS political ad that's full of manipulative lies. I wish I could get YouTube to stop running these things on our show, but I have absolutely no say (nor does anyone at G&S) in the advertising. I do not endorse any of the ideas, products, or services that are advertised alongside Tabletop any more than the cast of Modern Family endorses the ideas, products, or services that run during their show. I wish I had control over this, but I don't. I'm told that if you don't want to see "sensitive" ads (which includes gross political ads) you can opt-out of "sensitive" ads in your preferences.

* It wasn't until we were editing this episode that I saw that Amber made an (unintentional) illegal play at the start of the game. Oops. Ultimately, it didn't really affect scoring, and it certainly didn't affect our enjoyment of the game, so it isn't the biggest deal to me, but I know that sort of thing is important to some viewers.

* It's been brought to my attention that some of the other players got away with a couple of technically illegal moves during the game. Again, for serious players, that's an important thing that shouldn't happen; for us, it didn't affect the fun we had while we were playing the game, but if we were to play a second round, I would make sure that everyone read the cards carefully so it didn't happen again.

* This leads into the final point: When we were putting these episodes together, we decided that nothing was more important than everyone having fun. We knew that we were going to make mistakes (we made more on Gloom than we did on any other game, mostly because everyone was having too much fun telling the silly story, and I was the only person at the table who had played Gloom more than once) and we knew that there was a certain type of person in the audience who was going to savage us for making those mistakes. We knew that, in that person's eyes, we were worse than Hitler for making rules errors or playing with a less-than-optimum strategy, and we decided that we aren't making this show for that person.

Okay, I think that covers it. Thanks for watching, and I hope you enjoy the show!

Live action Interactive Fiction games

Remember those old text adventure games from the 80s, like Zork and Leather Goddesses of Phobos and Planetfall and Lurking Horror? I loved them, and I loved how they engaged my imagination while they encouraged me to solve puzzles.

When I was at Origins, I saw this game called JUNGLE ADVENTURE, which uses a system called Parsely. It's essentially a live version of the old text adventure games. A GM plays the part of the computer, reading descriptions and giving responses to a group of any number of players who are trying to solve the adventure.

I haven't played it at a con, yet, but I've read stories from people who played it in a room of a hundred or more people, with delightful and hilarious results.

I've had such a good time reading JUNGLE ADVENTURE and SPACE STATION, I went to RPGnow and bought ACTION CASTLE, the very first game that was released using this game engine. (Note: I didn't realize, until I started writing this post, that mementomori sells the games directly, so I've linked to those pages here; shut up and give them your money!)

I'm not entirely sure it would work on Tabletop, but I'm going to try it with my friends at our next game day. 

I'm just going to throw this out there: I bet it would be really easy to design your own games using this system… get excited and make something, Internet!!

Mental Floss really likes Tabletop, and I talk to Nerdist about Second Watch

Two things for you, free of charge.

1. Mental Floss said really nice things about Tabletop:

So Wil Wheaton has a YouTube show about boardgames, and it’s awesome. It’s called TableTop, and it’s a long-form (about a half hour per episode) look at various good boardgames, including a basic explanation of how to play each — plus an actual play session so you can actually get it. Whether you’re a boardgame nerd or a “normal” person looking for a fun diversion for your next party, this is for you.

I'm crazy about Mental Floss, so this means a lot to me. I think Mental Floss reaches people who don't already know about Tabletop, and I'm hopeful that this will bring some new viewers and eventual new gamers into the world.

Also, I met a woman in Trader Joe's today who watches Tabletop. This is how I recounted it to Twitter:

Girl in store: Do you make that tabletop show? Me: Yes! Her: My husband and I love it! We have a game night because of it! Me: AWESOME!


Her little girl: Daddy's favorite is the trains! Her: We love Ticket to Ride. Anne: Careful with the board. Me: Voice of experience, here.

Her husband told me via the tweety box that she was there to get snacks for their weekly boardgame night, which exists because they were inspired by Tabletop. 

Mission: Accomplished*

2. I talked with Nerdist Incorporated about Falling Skies Second Watch, Tabletop, and the new media revolution:

N: 2nd Watch will be living on the web. In what ways will the show’s format be taking advantage of its portal?

WW: Hopefully, it will let us reach out to and embrace the audience in a more interactive way than we can with television, which is one-way communication.

N: With after-shows like this and Talking Dead, you and Chris are acting as ambassadors to the community on behalf of those shows. Do you think networks are finally seeing the value in personally connecting with the audience? And how does having the trust of an audience weigh on deciding whether or not to take on a job like this?

WW: It’s a huge responsibility to host one of these shows, because we need to know as much about the individual episodes and the cast as the most über of überfans. We’re essentially acting as a bridge between the fans of the show and the people who make it, so we absolutely need to have our shit together. I take the responsibility very seriously, and I know that there’s a certain amount of “this is awesome” implied when I agree to do something like this, which is why I wouldn’t have said yes if I didn’t absolutely love the show.

The networks are taking baby steps, as younger executives who have grown up with the Internet replace retiring executives who are still trying to fight the Napster battle. One of the key areas (in which) indies are destroying the majors is with fan outreach, no region-locking, no DRM, and things like that. It makes me really, really happy that TNT and AMC are seeing that the old style of one-way, top-down network to audience relationships need to adapt and change to meet what audiences expect right now.

There's a lot more to our interview, which I hope you'll read because I spent a lot of time thinking about and writing my answers down. For you. For science. You monster.


*And not in the fake codpiece way.



In which we play Munchkin on Tabletop with Steve Jackson

If you've been reading my blog for a few years, you may remember when I played Munchkin with my kids in 2008:

I'm going to speak in geek to people who have played Munchkin: Neither of the kids would help me, and I kept getting the Truly Obnoxious Curse, so I was having a hard time gaining levels. As a result, I was stuck at level 3 forever while they were sitting around level 7. I decided that my goal in the game would be to mess with them as much as possible, and forget trying to gain levels on my own.

Nolan was to my right. He kicked in a door and didn't find a monster, so he looked for trouble, playing a level 3 something from his hand. "Does anyone want to mess with me?" He asked, avoiding looking in my direction.

"It's funny you should ask," I said. "That's an illusion. You're actually fighting a level 18 Squidzilla." I played the appropriate cards.

"Oh, okay." Nolan pulled a card from his hand. "It's now enraged, so it gets an additional treasure." He pulled another card from his hand. "And with this Polymorph Potion, it turns into a parrot and flies away." He paused dramatically. "And I take five treasures."

"OHHH!" Ryan and Michael said.

"Man, that's a really great move," I said. "Too bad I'm playing Annihilation on it."

He was forced to discard the potion, and face the Enraged Squidzilla on his own.

"OHHH!" Ryan and Michael said."

"Okay, then." Nolan said. "I guess I'm running away."

You may also remember the 3872 Intelligent Humongous Orcs Incident of 2006, which caused much laughter and rejoicing.

Munchkin is a polarizing game. People who love it are crazy about it, and people who hate it want to kill it with fire. I fall into the middle; it can be a really fun game if the players get into the spirit of the puns and the backstabbing and don't succumb to the crabs-in-a-barrel mentality that can keep a player at level 9 an hour after the game stopped being fun.

On the most recent Tabletop, Sandeep Parikh, Felicia Day, and the game's creator Steve Jackson played Munchkin with me, and I think we illustrated exactly why this game can be so much fun:


If you can't see the embedded player above, or you want to watch us play in glorious HIGH DEFINITION, here's some linky magic that will give you what you're looking for.  

Munchkin is one of those games that brings out the Rules Lawyers and self-proclaimed experts who spend a lot of time pointing out every time we did something that wasn't optimal, or when we screwed up with the rules, so this is a very good time for me to point something out: The goal of TableTop is to show how much fun it is to play games. It isn't a tutorial on how to win them. We know that we make mistakes (we shot 20 episodes in 10 days on a tiny budget with 60 different players) and we're okay with that.